I’ve just read a fascinating book: John Mullan’s What Matters in Jane Austen? In it, he asks 20 questions – and then deconstructs them absolutely brilliantly. One of them is: What do the characters call each other? And further, how does Jane Austen herself refer to them? Here is an example to show you what I mean.
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan
Continue reading Jane Austen/ Georgette Heyer: Formality and Informality
Almost all novels have a back story. The author will probably have been mulling the plot over for some time: days, weeks, months, even years, and part of the mulling process is to decide ‘Where to start?’ OK, there are some writers who plunge straight in, having little more than a dramatic picture in their mind and content to let the story go where it wants to, but most of us need to know rather more about the story – even it it ends up somewhere different!
Elizabeth lecturing at Caerleon on a topic of writerly interest
Continue reading Writing Tips: Problems with the Back Story
I’ve always thought of my parents as lost souls. My mother, age about two, was brought to a British refugee camp in Burma at the end of the war. My father was a year or so older when he was found by American soldiers wandering alone in the ruins of a burnt-out village in Eastern Europe in 1945. Neither of them had names or nationalities; they were just part of the human debris of the war. All that was known was that he was probably Polish and that she might be half-Burmese.
The Author Continue reading Learning the Language – a short story by Elizabeth Hawksley
If you need inspiration for a novel, you could do a lot worse than visit your nearest stately home. The magnificent Kenwood House, built in the 1760s by Robert Adam for the Earl of Mansfield, is not too far from where I live. It struck me that what novelists sometimes need is not an in depth knowledge of a stately home’s architectural highlights but a record of some of the everyday objects which a heroine would come across.
Rear of Kenwood House, showing the Orangerie
Continue reading Inspired by Kenwood House: Take a Heroine
This is the week of my e-book launch of Highland Summer and I’d like to tell you a bit about the book.
I try to set myself a technical challenge with all my books and those of you who have been following my e-books story so far, will know that Highland Summer is where I intersperse the third person narrative with extracts from the heroine, Robina’s, journal, as I explained in my blog last week. It was fascinating to see how Robina’s character gradually changed as I allowed her to have her say in what was going on.
e-book cover for ‘Highland Summer’. I’m so thrilled it’s coming out tomorrow! Continue reading My e-book Launch of ‘Highland Summer’
I am busy getting my Elizabeth Hawksley back list of ten historical novels into e-books The first e-book will be Highland Summer and I’ve been remembering the struggle to introduce my heroine, Robina (an intelligent but naive seventeen-year-old girl) in such a way as to make her interesting. The novel was in the third person and I was getting desperate. And then I had an idea: I would write Robina’s diary and see what happened. Perhaps a (temporary) first person viewpoint would help to free the block.
I’m stuck, dammit! What am I to do?
Continue reading Writing Tips: Getting a Character Unstuck